BBQ History

When Barbecue was Against the Law

A Denison newspaper described Al Hall as “a magnificent specimen of physical manhood.” When a local alderman pistol-whipped him during an argument at Hall’s barbecue joint in 1891, Hall retaliated with two swift punches to the face, sending the alderman home in a carriage. “Blood flowed quite freely,” noted The Sunday Gazetteer*. But that’s not what got Al Hall arrested. He found himself on the wrong side of the law a month earlier for “violating the…

Mapping Texas Barbecue History

When it comes to Texas barbecue’s roots, Central Texas meat markets get all the glory. The German and Czech immigrants who built the fires at Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Southside Market in Elgin, and Prause Meat Market in La Grange were indeed barbecue pioneers, but their stories are often elevated because those joints are lucky enough to still be in business. Their current existence reinforces the bias of a simple barbecue genesis story, but the birth of commercial Texas…

I Say DeMaria, You Say DiMaria

In 1891, the S.S. Utopia departed Italy, headed for America. The ship, carrying 880 passengers, many of them Italian immigrants who boarded the Utopia in Naples or Palermo, was sailing through the port of Gibraltar when it struck another vessel. The hole created by the collision sunk the Utopia in just twenty minutes, and 562 passengers died. It was a tragedy chronicled by the New York Times, which reported that people aiding in the recovery effort found the passengers, who had been crammed below-deck…

Gobble, Gobble

Rose Diamond once ruled the world of smoked turkey. In 1938, customers in New York, Miami, and Hollywood enjoyed her smoked turkeys shipped out from her Fort Worth home. According to The Claude News, they brined for at last ten days before being smoked in a brick pit in Diamond’s backyard for the better part of a day. “Properly smoked turkey is a rare delicacy,” the paper reminded its readers. By the next year, the…

Governor Tryon’s Barbecue

Protest season seems to be upon us after the recent election. Citizens are taking to the streets to show their displeasure with a new leader, which isn’t anything new in the United States. Before the original Brexit united us, we were anything but polite. Of course you remember the Boston Tea Party, and you might even have retained some knowledge of the Stamp Act, but what about Governor Tryon’s Barbecue? It sounds festive enough, but the…

30 Years of Railhead Smokehouse

When Charlie Geren opened Railhead Smokehouse in Fort Worth, he had already failed at his previous attempt at the restaurant business. Geren said he had just “lost his ass” in a “steak and beer joint” in north Fort Worth, but decided to partner with a pitmaster friend, Harry Pilcher, to take over an empty beer barn. Thirty years later, Railhead is still a Fort Worth staple, and the spot where Geren gets lunch everyday when he’s in Fort Worth….

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